My oh my! Something like this is LONG Overdue!! In my view, too many of these "Christian" organization "ministries" are little more than gravy train operations for their leaders who fleece the gullible and uneducated of their hard earned money. The words Pharisees and parasites both come to mind. In any other realm, con-artists of this magnitude would have long ago be shut down. What is surprising is that a Republican is behind the inquiry. Daddy Dobson will no doubt be calling the Chimperator and demanding that Grassley be put in his place. Here are details from an Associated Press story (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TELEVANGELIST_PROBE?SITE=VANOV&SECTION=HOME):
Acting on tips about preachers who ride in Rolls Royces and have purportedly paid $30,000 for a conference table, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee said Tuesday he's investigating the finances of six well-known TV ministers. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said those under scrutiny include faith healer Benny Hinn, Georgia megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar and one of the nation's best known female preachers, Joyce Meyer.
Grassley sent letters to the half-dozen Christian media ministries earlier this week requesting answers by Dec. 6 about their expenses, executive compensation and amenities, including use of fancy cars and private jets. In a statement, Grassley said he was acting on complaints from the public and news coverage of the organizations.
"The allegations involve governing boards that aren't independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces," Grassley said. "I don't want to conclude that there's a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more. People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code."
Most of those under investigation preach a variation of the "prosperity gospel," the teaching that God will shower faithful followers with material riches. Grassley's letters went to:
1. Kenneth and Gloria Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries of Newark, Texas, a $20 million organization and prosperity gospel pioneer. Questions were raised about the transfer of church assets to a for-profit company, Security Patrol Inc., a $1 million loan from Gloria Copeland to the group, and a "personal gift" of more than $2 million given to Kenneth Copeland to mark the ministry's 40th anniversary.
2. Creflo and Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International and Creflo Dollar Ministries of College Park, Ga. Grassley's letter asks for records on private planes, board makeup, compensation and donations and "love offerings" to visiting ministers.
3. Benny Hinn of World Healing Center Church Inc. and Benny Hinn Ministries of Grapevine, Texas, is asked about use of a private jet, a home in Dana Point, Calif. and "layover trips" while traveling on ministry business.
4. Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Bishop Eddie Long Ministries of Lithonia, Ga., was questioned about his salary, a $1.4 million real estate transaction and whether he, and not the board, holds sole authority over the organization.
5. Joyce and David Meyer of Joyce Meyer Ministries of Fenton, Mo., who were quizzed about receiving donations of money and jewelry and the handling of cash from overseas crusades. They also were asked about expenditures at ministry headquarters, including a $30,000 conference table and a $23,000 "commode with marble top."
6. Randy and Paula White of the multiracial Without Walls International Church and Paula White Ministries of Tampa, Fla. are asked about home purchases in San Antonio, Texas, Malibu, Calif., and New York, credit card charges for clothing and cosmetic surgery and the reported purchase of a Bentley convertible as a gift for Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent Texas preacher and televangelist.
The Senate Finance Committee has chided secular nonprofits for governance and compensation problems in the past, but this level of scrutiny for what are basically "non-pulpit churches" is unprecedented, said Ken Behr, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Because the groups have tax status as churches, they are not required to file tax forms open to public inspection.
Man, the Lord's work sure sounds profitable. I commend Senator Grassley, but I suspect there are MANY more of this organizations that need to be investigated, starting with Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America, to name a few.